NEIL BONNAR: This World Cup is all talk

CALM DOWN Wayne Rooney is just a victim of the inevitable English World Cup witch hunt

CALM DOWN Wayne Rooney is just a victim of the inevitable English World Cup witch hunt

First published in Sport
Last updated

THE great British – or should I say – English press and public’s nonsensical criticism of Wayne Rooney is probably the thing I have liked least about this World Cup.

The thing I have liked best is definitely Jonathan Pearce weaving the name of a Chinese Second Division club into his commentary.

For all its hype the World Cup isn’t all that much when you pick it apart.

It’s still 11 players trying to kick a ball into a net and to stop another 11 doing the same. And the quality of football isn’t as good as in the Champions League.

By the same token, that’s not to say the World Cup is not completely different to any other football, or better for that matter.

It’s special because it’s a fairytale, a series of stories and myths, heroes and villains, a haze of rampant nostalgia, of sporting emotions surpassable only by the Olympic Games – and some would argue not even by that.

It is the only football that brings, not only whole countries, but the whole world together.

And we don’t just watch it, we talk about it. Boy do we talk about it.

We have two people talking about it on TV during every match, another four talking about it before, after and during half time, and every friend, family and stranger talking about it wherever you go.

The latter comes with the rider: whether you like it or not. Phil Neville got stick for sounding like – as one person put it – a sat nav to Dignitas, but at least he knows what he is talking about.

So do, in the main, those who watch football week in, week out.

But, unfortunately, the World Cup spawns millions of others who suddenly become football omniscients who can’t wait to tell you in great detail how bad Wayne Rooney is.

Rooney, to explain my earlier criticism of this week’s what can only be called press and public witch hunt, had an okay game the other night. Not good, not bad, probably a five-and-a-half or six out of 10. Where he falls down is coming from a country which has a need to pick on one of their own during a World Cup.

Usually, it’s the manager, this time it’s Rooney.

The irony is that, with a few well-chosen words, Roy Hodgson – could have switched the criticism from Rooney on to himself, as many managers would do in such a situation to lift the pressure off a player.

It’s annoying that when you actually want someone to talk, he doesn’t.

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